Persecution: It doesn’t mean what you think it means…

There seems to be this rumor going around that we are living in an “anti-god” society. Rumor has it that everyone hates Christians and everything that they stand for. Darn those intolerant liberals for telling us we can’t have everything our way. Unfortunately, in case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the world is not Christian and this is not a fast food restaurant world we live in. What upsets me, however, is the “persecution complex.” In particular, conservative American Christians seem to think that they are being persecuted for their beliefs in God and their belief in a certain moral code. As I understand it, it makes you upset because same-sex marriage has been legalized in most of the country. I understand that it upsets you that the Bible and prayer have been taken out of schools. I understand that abortion is murder, and you don’t like that it’s been legalized. But here’s the problem. You do not understand what persecution means. And I’m not so sure you understand what freedom of religion means either, but that’s a topic for another time.

Let’s look at the definition of persecution as we continue this heated debate about losing our Christian values. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the verbal form for persecution is persecute: “to harass in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specif: to cause to suffer because of belief.” So, with that term being understood, I have a question for you. Have you been harassed “in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict”? Some of you would say, yes, absolutely! We are being forced to accept that same-sex marriage is ok! This is against what we believe!

Ok, but are you being harassed? Yes! “In a manner designed to injure?” Um…well…

If you’re of sound mind and body today and no one has physically abused you for your faith, you might want to step out of your American comfort zone for a bit and look at the other countries out there who legitimately struggle with this problem. I think you’re missing the point. There are people who are literally being slaughtered or worshipping in secret because of their faith. There are people who are locked up for this kind of thing we call following Jesus Christ. I’d like to take you to a passage in the book of Hebrews so you can see what some Christians in the first century church suffered through.

Hebrews 11:36-38: “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of ship and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world is not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Also, the writer of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body.”

My dear fellow believers, until we have truly experienced what other Christians around the world have experienced because of their faith, we do not have the right to say we are being persecuted. We do not have the right. We are making a mockery at what these people go through. Remember those who are truly suffering as if you are with them. Pray for the truly persecuted church. I’m afraid you don’t get what it’s like to suffer if you live in America. Not really.

Another word that needs to be defined here is intolerance. What does it truly mean to be intolerant of something or someone? Let’s return to our wonderful friend, the dictionary for our answer. The second definition refers to religion: “unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression esp. in religious matters: unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.” Last I checked, we can still express ourselves religiously in most areas in this country. What makes me upset however, is that we don’t think others should be able to express themselves if they disagree with our Judeo-Christian worldview. Here’s a hint: The rest of the world is not Christian. And the more you fight for it to be Christian, the more ground you will lose.

My, how you have been intolerant of others just as much as they have been intolerant of you. You have spewed hatred against those who disagreed with you. You have caused more harm than good with this attitude. The rest of the world sees that you have forgotten how to truly love people regardless of their differences. Disagreeing is one thing. But treating others as less than yourself because you say that they “sin differently than you,” is an outrage. All the Leelah Alcorns out there know it to be true. You disagreed, but you didn’t stop there. You hated. You scorned. You called her a sinner, but you provided no solution for her pain. You love to point out the disease, but I have not seen you struggling to help others find the cure. Guess what? You are a bloody, filthy sinner, too, in desperate need of the same grace you seem to forget about when you speak against certain “abominations.” Those who have an abortion need this love. Those who perform abortions need this love. Those who are homosexual and bisexual and transgender need this love. Those who are just like you need this love. Where is it? Where is it, Christian? Jesus loved these people–every last one of them. Those he corrected the most were those like you who told everyone else they were wrong.

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